Kansas City Royals infield prospect Raul Mondesi was suspended 50 games without pay Tuesday as a result of a positive test for a performance-enhancing substance that was in an over-the-counter cold medicine that he was taking.
Mondesi tested positive for Clenbuterol, which violates terms of Major League Baseball’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. A positive test for a performance-enhancing drug usually results in an 80-game suspension, but MLB and the MLBPA agreed to a reduced punishment after Mondesi showed the steroid came from Subrox-C, an over-the-counter medication that he bought in the Dominican Republic.
“It is by far one of the hardest moments I have had to face in my life, but it is a decision that I accept and one that I take full responsibility for as a professional,” Mondesi said in a statement released by the MLB Players Association.
Mondesi said he took the medication without reading the label or consulting his trainer. Mondesi is the first player to receive a reduced suspension for unintended use and, as part of the deal, remains eligible to appear in this year’s postseason.
“[I] did not know it contained a banned substance,” he said. “I tested positive for that banned substance, with a minuscule amount of Clenbuterol in my system which could not have possibly enhanced my performance on the field, and now must face the consequences of that mistake.
“I apologize to my organization, my teammates, the fans and everyone who has supported me in my career. Never did I intend to take a substance that would give me an unfair advantage on the field. It is solely my mistake and there are no excuses for my carelessness in not being fully informed of what I put in my body.”
Mondesi, the 20-year-old son of former NL Rookie of the Year Raul Mondesi, has spent this year on option to Double-A Northwest Arkansas and is hitting .250 with five homers, 15 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in 25 games. The suspension is effective immediately.
Because of the suspension, he will lose $11,311 of his $41,400 salary while in the minor leagues. If called up to the major leagues, he gets paid at the rate of the $507,500 minimum.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore issued a statement Tuesday supporting Mondesi for “an unfortunate incident that we believe to be an innocent mistake.”
“These are the consequences that players face when they do not adhere to the policies that have been collectively bargained,” Moore said in a statement. “We have a protocol in place with our medical team should a player ever have questions about what they may be taking, even if an over-the counter medication.
“In this particular case the protocol was not followed and the consequences are such. We remain supportive of Raul Mondesi.”
Mondesi was ranked No. 73 on ESPN Insider Keith Law’s Top 100 Prospects for 2016. In October, he became the first player in MLB history to debut in the World Series when he pinch hit against the Mets, striking out in the fifth inning of Game 3.
An initial positive test for performance-enhancing drugs resulted in a 50-game suspension from 2006 through 2013, and the penalty was increased in March 2014 to 80 games. Mondesi could have appealed to arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, who would have held a hearing to decide whether there was just cause for the discipline, but the sides reached their agreement.
Mondesi provided evidence under section 8.B.3 of the joint drug agreement, the person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press. That provision states “a player is not in violation of the program if the presence of the prohibited substance in his test result was not due to his fault or negligence.”
“It just shows you, you can’t take anything nowadays over the counter or anything without consulting the training staff first,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “You can fail a drug test with an energy drink. We try to do our best to inform these guys, look, you don’t take anything without letting a trainer know exactly what it is and getting an OK from him.”
Yost said he understands what happens in these instances.
“Subconsciously, you go into a store and you buy something for a cold. How much damage can that do?” he said. “Well, you find out it can do a lot of damage. It can cost you 50 games.”
Mondesi is the ninth player suspended this year under the big league drug program. Miami second baseman Dee Gordon was suspended for 80 games, as were Cleveland outfielder Abraham Almonte, Cincinnati outfielder Juan Duran, free-agent catcher Taylor Teagarden, Philadelphia pitcher Daniel Stumpf, Toronto first baseman Chris Colabello and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Josh Ravin.
New York Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia received a permanent ban following a third positive test.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.